The Feminist Killjoy Handbook: The Radical Potential of Getting in the Way (Hardcover)
A renowned feminist thinker argues we need to get in the way of happiness, our own and other people’s, to build a more just world
Do you refuse to laugh at offensive jokes? Have you ever been accused of ruining dinner by pointing out your companion’s sexist comment? Are you often told to stop being so “woke”? If so, you might be a feminist killjoy—and this handbook is for you. In this book, feminist theorist Sara Ahmed shows how killing joy can be a radical world-making project.
Presenting sharp analysis of literature, film, and influential feminist works, and drawing on her own experiences as a queer feminist scholar-activist of color, Ahmed reveals the invaluable lessons of the feminist killjoy, from the importance of asking questions to the power of the eye roll. The Feminist Killjoy Handbook offers an outstretched hand to feminist killjoys everywhere and an essential intellectual guide to the transformative power of getting in the way.
About the Author
Sara Ahmed is a feminist writer and independent scholar who works at the intersection of feminist, queer, and race studies. Winner of the 2017 Kessler Award from CLAGS, the Center for LGBTQ Studies, Ahmed has published ten books, including the cult classic Living a Feminist Life. She lives in England.
“Feminist books often encourage us to make the world a more just place, but without offering us the tools to navigate the inevitable pushback that we will likely encounter. Thankfully, Sara Ahmed’s The Feminist Killjoy Handbook provides the latter. Simultaneously inspiring and practical—a wonderful guide for becoming a more powerful and thoughtful social justice activist in everyday situations.”—Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl
“The Feminist Killjoy Handbook is a fun read when you are the feminist killjoy. I enjoyed the act of naming so many of my experiences at family dinners, work, and in my childhood friend-group texts. I think other feminist killjoys will appreciate the survival notes given so generously. But most importantly, it names the violence that is known to happen behind closed doors and the bravery it takes to speak up in intimate relationships. I highly recommend this book to feminist killjoys and even those quiet feminists teetering on embracing the killjoy label. This book will serve as a guide I wish I’d had when I started this journey.”—Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez, author of For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts
“Odd and exciting to let out a shout as one reads a book of theory, theory written for and about the ordinary outrages that demand a feminist response. This book releases a sound that emerges from the full diaphragm, a life force held in check for too long. Ahmed moves from scene to scene with clarity, rage, and joy, building through each refrain to mark the brutal violence of everyday encounters and to show us what a life-affirming response can be. Ahmed thinks in the middle of rage, never letting go of the possibility of joyful resistance, writing, turning over what she just wrote, showing how ‘obstinacy’ is one form for the desire to survive. And yet, throughout, the humility of this brilliant feminist thinker shines through. This book is a great gift, enormously important for overcoming this vicious trans/feminist divide, showing how anti-racism and the struggle for disability rights is central to feminist and queer thinking and politics.”—Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble
“This book arms readers with a sense of vital energy, often lost due to burnout, compassion fatigue, and microaggressions. Audiences curious about navigating the intersection between feminism and daily life, intellectualism, poetry, and activism will love this title.” —Library Journal
“In this fervent manifesto, Ahmed brings impressive clarity to a field of study often opaque in the hands of others. Admirers of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts should take note.”—Publishers Weekly
“Feminist and social activists are certain to find the book encouraging. A good reminder that the work of activists is often challenging yet important.”—Kirkus
“At a time when social change is urgently needed, The Feminist Killjoy Handbook provides sharp and usable tools for readers who have been made to feel isolated, insignificant and difficult. It is a generous offering from an important theorist, and highly recommended.”
“Sara Ahmed’s ongoing project of platforming and protecting the feminist killjoy remains vital and refreshing.”—Zora Simic, Inside Story (AU)
“Sara Ahmed’s profound reflection on the feminist killjoy is in fact a joyous experience for folks who understand the impact of the trivializing, displacement, and erasure of our anti-racist feminist commitments. The Feminist Killjoy Handbook (not a “how to” but a “living as a feminist” handbook) connects anti-racist feminists across generations and teaches us that living a feminist life/being a feminist killjoy is a joyful and collective form of resistance that is capacious enough to include us all. A moving and brilliant book that belongs in our libraries, homes, classrooms, and social movements.”—Chandra Talpade Mohanty, author of Feminism Without Borders
“Sara Ahmed's work has long been the touchstone for feminist scholars like me, so I am delighted that she has brought together her most powerful ideas from nearly a quarter century of publishing to the non-academic reader. The Feminist Killjoy Handbook is exactly what we need: a cogent, powerful, practical guide to understanding our world and changing it for the better with our every interaction, and every day. This is the book I shall be pressing into the hands of every woman I care about for years to come. An absolute must read!”—Sunny Singh, London Metropolitan University
“Sara Ahmed’s The Feminist Killjoy Handbook is a down and dirty, ground-level primer on how the job of taking back feminism from technocrats can be accomplished.”—Rafia Zakaria, author of Against White Feminism
“Yes. This book should be in your hands, because it changes what we can do with our hands. Outstretched in collaboration, extended as a fence, raised in fists of protest, intertwined with visionary grace. Maybe you will even write on your hand to remember: after reading this book we have new possibilities for what our hands can mean.”
—Alexis Pauline Gumbs, author of Undrowned
“Sara Ahmed's Feminist Killjoy Handbook is not only a dazzling analysis of the workings of sexism, but a balm for the soul. Ahmed's insight that being a feminist is being a killjoy is as consoling as it is revelatory. It makes sense of the bad atmosphere, the uncomfortable feelings that swirl around feminism; it gives you ballast in the storm. Read it. Give it to everyone.It will teach you how to survive and how to transform the world.”—Hannah Dawson, King’s College, London
“The iconic feminist Killjoy Sara Ahmed rides her horse, stands her ground, speaks her truth in this mighty little book. Her powerful words blaze a trail of tough love honed-in the saddle of real life. Armed with the gift of her wisdom, a new generation of Black and brown Killjoys will have the weapons to outwit the tyranny of white supremacist heteropatriarchy - subverting its machinations to define our minds and bodies with our collective Killjoy voice.”—Heidi Safia Mirza, University College, London